If a landlord wants to let their property quickly, if they want someone else to deal with the referencing and credit checking, if they want to find good quality tenants, then many will turn to a letting agent for help. But just as in any industry, there are good letting agents and bad ones. There are ones you would be happy to use and others you should stay away from. With something as important as the future tenant (and rent) for your property, it’s important to make sure you pick the best letting agent for you assuming you are heading down this path and not choosing to do everything yourself. Here are some tips on how to find a good letting agent.
Location matters a lot more than many people think. If you want to let your property more quickly, you’ll need an agent who is able to conduct viewings (after all, this is part of the service you’re paying for), and for that to happen they need to be local to the property itself. If they are further afield, trying to tie up a mutually convenient time with a prospective tenant can be tricky.
But as well as that, an agent who knows the local area will be able to talk about more than just the property itself – they will be able to talk about the good schools, the local shops, the best bus routes, the distance to the station, the pubs, the restaurants, the people… They will be able to answer any questions the viewer has, instilling them with confidence and usually letting the property in a timely manner.
What Does A Good Letting Agent Offer?
Many agents offer varying levels of service depending on how much you want to pay. You will have a number of different options including:
- Tenant find only
- Tenant find and rent collection
- Full management
Each of these options has its benefits and downsides, and it’s wise to look into exactly how much you will be expected to pay and what you will get in return before signing up to anything. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask; a good agent will happily answer them for you.
If the thought of paperwork makes you shudder don’t worry; many people feel the same. Unfortunately, it’s an important part of renting out a property. A good letting agent will be able to handle all the paperwork involved including:
- Credit checks
- Referencing potential tenants
- Checking employment details
- Ensuring the tenant has the right to reside in the UK
- Drawing up the tenancy agreement
- Obtaining safety certificates
- Arranging for an EPC to be carried out if need be
If you don’t want to carry out this essential work yourself, then you need to be confident that your chosen letting agent will do it, and do it accurately – one small mistake in any of these documents and you might find the tenancy is invalid.
Marketing: The True Sign Of A Good Letting Agent
One of the biggest issues a landlord tends to have is finding a tenant for their property. With limited funds and reach, you may only have a handful of people getting in touch about the property, even if you use something like Facebook marketplace and pay for more people to see the ad.
A letting agent should be able to market your property on all the major property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla, and On The Market. Not only this, but they will be able to include floorplans, excellent photos, a great description, and details about the property that will entice people to want to view it.
Whichever agent you are considering, take a look at their current property ads. Do you think they look good? Are the images high quality? Are there floorplans? Are there spelling errors or other inaccuracies? If so, it shows that little care has been taken over the advert; what does that say about the agent’s way of working?
Picking a good letting agent might be as simple as choosing one that you know will protect your money, and that of your tenant. You need to be sure that any money exchanged is going to remain safe, so make sure that your potential letting agent is part of a client money protection scheme. There should be a separate bank account for ‘ring-fenced’ money – ask to see proof that this exists.
The agent must also comply with the deposit law; if they don’t, it’s you the landlord who will be held liable. Any deposit must be put into a government approved scheme within 30 days of the tenancy starting. Which scheme does the agent use? Do they offer proof of deposit?
If you opt for full management you are essentially leaving all repairs and small decisions to the agent (of course, for anything major they will need your permission, and you can set financial limits that they can’t spend over and above).
An important aspect of this is how quickly the agent responds to tenant issues and maintenance requests. The quicker the better; you need your tenant to be happy in their home or you might run the risk of them leaving and you having to not only have the repairs seen to anyway, but also having to find new tenants for the property.
It’s worth looking at letting agent reviews; who gives a good service to both tenants and landlords? These are the agents you want to contact. They might cost more than others, but it will be money well spent.